- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier yesterday rescinded another dramatic post-game declaration.

A little more than 20 hours after chastising his players for a lack of effort and threatening to replace some with more eager free agents, Spurrier admitted he once again spoke too hastily.

“Maybe that was an on-the-moment thought to get our guys’ attention,” Spurrier said. “But there’s not a lot of changing you can do right now, to tell you the truth. If there is a spot or two we possibly could do that. But this is our team. Somehow or another we’ve got to get our players excited to play again.”

The Redskins will undergo a few minor changes in the wake of Sunday’s 24-7 loss at Buffalo, the club’s third straight defeat and ugliest to date.

First, the team plans to sign one or two of the seven players who worked out at Redskin Park yesterday. However, club officials emphasized the workouts had been planned in advance — this week being Washington’s open date — and Sunday’s loss played no role in the expected acquisitions. The low-level signings were pending physicals today.

Second, Spurrier finally revealed a specific plan to alter the pass protection to help quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who has been battered all season and hasn’t finished the past two games. The Redskins, Spurrier said, no longer will use a tight end one-on-one against a defensive end, a protection scheme that has led to big hits on Ramsey in recent weeks.

And third, the Redskins could give some reserves extended looks in practice as they prepare for their next game, Nov.2 at Dallas. Spurrier continues to mention Lennie Friedman as a possible replacement for rookie left guard Derrick Dockery even though in two weeks injured starter Dave Fiore could be healthy enough to regain his spot.

Generally, though, yesterday was business as usual at Redskin Park. After questioning “how much fight we had in our team” Sunday night and threatening to “get the owners and personnel guys and coaches and figure out who’s playing hard,” Spurrier struck a more conciliatory tone.

“Effort could pick up; a lot of guys played with effort, though,” Spurrier said.

Club officials said there was no gathering among Spurrier, owner Dan Snyder and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato, and they figured Spurrier’s demand for a meeting was the result of post-game frustration.

Several players admitted they gave Spurrier’s threat little credence when he brought it up in the post-game locker room. The reason? Spurrier on several occasions has let radical ideas slip after bad losses, only to take them back later.

In Week 2 last year, for example, after getting blown out by Philadelphia, Spurrier said it might be time to play rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey; the next day he admitted it was too early. Four weeks later, Washington allowed 43 points in a loss to New Orleans and Spurrier launched a tirade similar to Sunday’s. The next day, his threat of “changes” faded.

Thus the real question seemed to be whether Spurrier’s message has much meaning if he is so apt to recant his strongest statements.

“I’ve never mentioned names and so forth,” Spurrier replied when asked that. “We still might have a change. The message right after the game like that usually tapers off a little bit after you realize this is your team, these are your guys. You don’t change the team midseason. But if there’s one or two players somewhere, or maybe even one or two on our team that need to play more, that’s still something we’re looking at.”

Tackle Jon Jansen, the only player still at Redskin Park after Spurrier backed down, wasn’t surprised and seemed to bear no residual anger.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Football is played by emotional people,” Jansen said. “It’s a game of momentum changes and all of those things. And after you lose a game you felt you should have won, everybody’s going to be frustrated and emotional about it.”

However, several players privately admitted it’s getting harder to take Spurrier seriously. And just because Spurrier recanted Sunday’s charge doesn’t mean coaches and players aren’t butting heads on a variety of issues.

Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, one of a handful of players at Redskin Park on their day off, was asked if there is a divide between players and coaches.

“I’m not sure,” Trotter replied slowly. He then tried to discuss how some of the breakdowns on defense might relate to that topic, before giving up and saying, “I don’t know, man. We’ll just watch the tape.”

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